Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Helms-Burton primer

Whether or not you like the point of view in this paper (pdf, 19 pages), it provides lots of good background on the 1996 Helms-Burton law – its provisions, how they have been applied and against whom, the European reaction, EU bargaining with the United States, and unsuccessful efforts to have sanctions applied against Spain’s Sol Melia hotel chain on behalf of the Sanchez family.

It provides some context that I missed in some earlier discussions here, explaining how Spain led the EU to its “common position” as part of a bargain that kept the United States from allowing the law’s Title III sanctions to take effect. Title III would allow Cuban Americans to sue in U.S. courts those foreign investors whose investments touch their former properties in Cuba. Title III has never gone into effect.

The paper doesn’t include my favorite quote on Helms-Burton, so I’ll provide it:

“In a few short years, there will be freedom, democracy, and human rights in Cuba, and we’ll all go down there and have a good time.”

-- Congressman Dan Burton, March 13, 1996

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